Thursday, April 21, 2011

Time to Start Worrying, Folks

There comes a time in every person's life when the warning signs are so dire, the trends of life are so clear, that there is going to be something major about to happen, and we should be rightly anxious about what is going to happen.

The Liberal Party has faced several of these crises over the past couple of decades, specifically in all through the 1980's, and now since 2006. In both instances, we faced a total wipeout of our support in the province that formed the bedrock of our support for most of our history - Quebec. No one needs to be reminded of the Mulroney years for the Libs in Quebec, and since 2006, we've utterly lost the confidence and votes of most Quebeckers, and we're not likely to get it back anytime soon.

Now, the winds in Quebec are once again showing change, this time in favour of the New Democratic Party, after going through all the alternatives - Liberals, Conservatives, and Bloc. It was natural that eventually the NDP would get a chance, but I think many were in denial. Now the reality has been foisted upon us.

And the issue here is that as Quebec goes, so the rest of the nation is influenced. If the NDP are going to replace the Bloc in the province, it will not only pose a problem to the separatistes but it poses a serious problem for the Liberal Party. As Canada's default centre-left option, being crowded out by the NDP is not something we relish, but if they gain momentum in Quebec, the likelihood is that they'll pick it up elsewhere as well. This mostly goes to benefit the Conservatives, as its unlikely the NDP are going to gain so much they'll surpass Harper's party, and in fact may allow for the Conservatives to have enough of a split vote in enough ridings to get a majority. In fact, we could be looking at a 1984 or 1988 scenario, where the Conservatives will power ahead with base support, while the other parties, specifically the NDP and Liberals battle each other for votes.

If the NDP keeps gaining traction, that's what I expect to happen, in fact. It will either be that, or a similar situation to the 1983 UK general election, which nearly saw Labour wiped out in the popular vote by the Liberal/Social Democrat Alliance. For different reasons, this may happen in this election with the Liberals and New Democrats.

Either way, really, I don't expect the Liberals to fall back into third place in this election. For all the worrying we have to do, the fact is, Ignatieff has held the Liberal Party's base much better than Dion did. If there was an opportunity for the NDP to pass the Liberals, it was in 2008, not 2011. But that doesn't mean they can't get damn close this time around. That's why the NDP are targeting us, in case some didn't realize - they honestly don't care about unseating Harper this time around, they care more about replacing the Liberals as Official Opposition. The Conservatives and NDP are working in tandem to squeeze us out. This is in fact the entire raison d'etre of the New Democrats, the reason why they were even formed - to replace the Liberals, and make Canada a straight left-right fight. Some people, like Kinsella, say a merger or coalition is the way to solve our issues - no, it's not. It is for anti-Harpers, but it isn't for pro-NDPers. They want the Liberals to be crushed, like the Conservatives do. There is nothing else to it. Nothing.

So we best start making our moves now. Polls aren't set in stone, and it could all change. Hell, maybe CROP and Ekos are wrong - they have both been known to be a little strange sometimes. But the fact is, we're no longer facing just a Conservative onslaught against us, we're also facing a fight on the left. The NDP are now getting the upper hand in Quebec, and that's all they need to get the ball rolling. We must stop them, if we want the Liberal brand to survive as a viable alternative in this country, and not simply as second-fiddle to another left-right paradigm that so often characterizes the politics of other countries. It's time we recognize the real threat just outside our doorstep. It's not too late.


  1. still has only 2 seats for the NDP projected in Quebec as of today. Eric Grenier updates that chart everyday (except week-ends). Do I see more seats coming up for them in the near future? I don't think so.

    In Jeanne-Le-Ber, where it's mostly Francophone and working class, I don't see them warming up to an ACTRA-Theatre guy who doesn't appear to speak much French. He'll be popular in Little Burgundy and certain parts. He may split the vote there, but that'll likely be to favour the Bloc incumbent there, Thierry St-Cyr.

    Maybe Marlene Jennings' riding of NDG-Lachine, don't know who the NDP candidate is there, that one may try to use Jennings' absences from certain votes, although, Jennings seems to have had legitimate reasons for being away--she had at least one eye-surgery and other treatments. Last time I saw her, her sight seemed to have been impaired.

    Honore-Mercier perhaps? I know some folks there are not happy about Rodriguez's drunk driving charges.

    Many parts of Montreal, especially east of St-Laurent Boulevard is still very much separatist, the Bloc will still come in those ridings.

    I agree with you though, I do believe the NDP share Harper's goal of annihilating the Harpercons. So the NDP becomes official opposition. Big deal. With a Harpercon majority, any party sitting in opposition would be rendered absolutely useless. No more than window dressing.

  2. Liberals were warned! You wasted your time since 2008 both attacking Jack Layton and thinking that you could steal NDP vote. Libs should have gone after Harper's soft flank. But oh no! So...

    Ditch the Liberals - they are a spent political force in Canada. If voting for a New Democratic candidate will stop the Conservative candidate, you should do it.

  3. leftdog,

    Actually, we should have gone after you more. That's the entire point. You guys are a threat against us when we're both in opposition, because fact is, we're not a very effective Opposition party, but we do govern well. Lord help you if we ever get back into power, because you'll be sent back to McDonough and Lewis territory.


    Grenier also notes that the NDP are just on the cusp of major wins - if they move any more, which his own system penalizes to begin with, they'll start to rack up the points. Canadian Election Watch also pointed out that the NDP could become a wall of orange if they reach a certain critical mass, which was totally reached in Ekos and CROP.

  4. Why are the Liberals so quiet about the NDP..they are no angels by any means. They seem to get along with Harper's gang, too much. We could have had the Auditor General's report back , for us to see it under a Liberal motion in Committee, but the NDP voted 'no' with the Conservatives

  5. I guess it's going to be Jack as PM of the coalition.

  6. A Eliz,

    I know, I know. This is my point. We should start hitting the NDP the way they've been hitting us. If we don't, then Layton really will become the next Broadbent.

  7. ridenrain,

    Yeah... not likely, in either respect.

  8. The NDP have been too cozy with the Conservatives and what gets me irate is the Liberals had a motion in Committee for the AG to release her data on the G8/G20 report before any election, whatever, and the NDP vote 'no' with the Conservatives.

  9. I find it amazing that Liberals continue to a) imagine that they are a "centre-left" party and b) that they are simply the natural party of government who somehow deserve to win.

    The Liberal party supporters simply have to face up to a very simple fact: they have failed to rise in the polls because most canadians simply don't see them as a meaningful alternative to the Conservative party. They have not presented any genuine plan for political reform despite the abuses of Harper, they present no meaningful environmental plan to speak of, and they mirror the Conservative on foreign policy votes and many other important issues.

    But it is very typical of a group that feels a sense of entitlement, as the Liberals seem to do, to blame others for your downfall instead of looking at yourself.

    And Eliz, ARE YOU KIDDING?? Or just blind??? How can you possibly complain about the NDP being too cozy with the Conservatives when the Liberals have kept them in power over and over and over again?? I am critical of Layton when it is appropriate but you have to be a completely blinkered partisan to imagine that the NDP has been cozier with Harper than the LIberals have been. I can count one or two 'confidence' related votes that Layton has supported but dozens which the Liberals have supported.

  10. The NDP has plotted WITH Harper to topple the Martin Gov't (that's one act of cooperation). The NDP did vote within the last year to prop up Harper (remember THAT?)... The NDP almost helped destroy the long-gun registry (anyone recall that?). The NDP did help bury the committee reports.

    I do believe we need a strong left - or the discussion keeps moving further and further right... But the NDP should do it on their own merit. So far Layton hasn't been doing that. Too afraid to put forward a REAL NDP platform, with strong socialist values, he has been rimming the center - which is a MAJOR reason young voters are turned off. If the NDP was staunchly on the left on things like marijuana legalization, affirmative action, etc., they would grow quite strong in the student and immigrant sectors. A GREEN plan would help shore up defectors to the Green Party. Where is the NDP's Green voice? A mirror of the Liberals? Pretty much - or shades of grey. In BC the NDP is to the RIGHT of the Liberal gov't in their opposition to the carbon tax. Also their BC opposition to the HST? Instead of expounding the virtues of a solid tax base in Canada, this NDP is speaking out over it? How the hell do they propose paying for all their social programs... or have they given up on those too?

    We need a strong left voice - to keep Canada a strong center nation - a true liberal democracy. If not, we continue to inch further and further right - that's the Harper plan. And if we have a see-saw between left and right (like the USA), we'll continue to more right, as all the corporate media continue to fawn over the right... Plus we'll never have a sustained period of moderate gov't to bring about the changes we love in Canada (how we are more forward on abortion, capital punishment, same-sex marriage, medicare).

  11. Tell me, do people on the progressive wing of the Liberal Party ever get tired of being so disrespected? I mean the pro-business wing of your party has been firmly in charge since the Martin putsch - even Dion described himself as an economic conservative - and it means progressive policy gets short shrift, and incidentally, a longer and longer period in opposition.

    You'd think someone would have noticed that there's a lot more progressive than conservative grass to mow in Canada and trying to steal soft conservative support is a mug's game. Don't get me wrong, as a happy Dipper we're delighted to take in the ever increasing droves of progressives tired of being punked by a party that clearly views Bay Street as its most important constituents. We're just kind of amazed you seem to want to drive them away.

  12. kirby,

    Don't you dare try and pin ideas on me that I never even said. I don't agree with the notion of a "natural governing party" - most Liberals don't. Keep pushing that kind of bullshit and you can find another blog to post it on.


    If the NDP ever come into power, just you wait - the realities of governance are not that pretty. Look at Dexter. You and your lot believe in what amounts more to fairy dust and magic than real policy half the time; when reality smacks you right square in the face, you'll have a fun time trying to explain all that back to me. Guaranteed.

  13. The Liberals are hurt by their presiding over much of what one economist called The Great Canadian Slump. The period of 1989-99 or so was a terrible period of austerity and bleakness in Canada. It started with Mulroney and his frequent tax rises (not to the wealthy though) and the high interest rate policies of John Crow backed by his extremely unpopular Finance Minister Michael Wilson.

    There was endless talk of expecting less from government, clawbacks, downloading to lower jurisdictions, cuts and austerity in general. These policies caused unemployment to skyrocket and free trade helped in this also. This caused the deficit to jump way up and the media blamed Trudeau for it and demanded more austerity, claimed social programmes to be "unsustainable". In the midst of all that, the Liberals were elected in 1993 on their left wing Red Book.

    They were immediately under pressure to join the austerity chorus, particularly from the media, the Progressive Conservatives and more fanatically, the Reform Party. The media openly compared Canada to Mexico (during the so-called 1994 Tequila Crisis) and Argentina. Canadian plutocrats called up Moody's, screamed at them to declare a cut in Canada's credit rating. As a result of all of this, in 1995, the Liberals announced far reaching austerity measures. This severely dampened the economic recovery for several years (this was dubbed the "jobless recovery" and high unemployment was seen as a "new normal" that could never be changed.

    Massive cuts included cuts in the health care transfers which Harper has mentioned during his campaign, though at the time as a Reformer he wanted more radical cuts. Harper correctly pointed out that the Liberal austerity dampened the economic recovery significantly but he supported more smothering policies himself at the time. In 1997, the Liberals nearly lost their majority and the NDP broke through in Atlantic Canada for the first time, and the Progressive Conservatives saw new life there too.

    This period was also known for the Draconian right wing policies of the Conservative provincial governments that would later join Reform in the new CCRAP Party in 2000... Mike Harris, Ralph "Sheikh of Araby" Klein, and so forth.

    Finally, the Slump ended in the late '90s and this economic growth was was stamped out the deficit, not the austerity. This was the US that helped pull Canada out of the Slump. The Liberals could then be more generous again but they never restored what they cut in any significant way. When Paul Martin, most identified with the policies of the Slump, became Prime Minister, he negotiated that accord to restore much of the health funding.

    Minority governments have changed Canada significantly and for the better. No more can government implement unpopular policies designed to force a cutin the standard of living and the NDP influence has allowed for a more pro-growth policy that has been a sort of largesse unseen during the majorities of Mulroney and Chretien.

    Harper unfortunately has been able to get the credit for this when the evidence shows that if he was to have a majority he'd implement more of the sorts of "reforms" that caused the Slump - his original plan to deal with the global financial crisis was austerity until the Coalition threatened his hold on power and he was forced to backtrack. He already is setting things up in with what he has been able to do with the corporate tax cuts that cause a deficit that will be covered with more austerity for the common person.

  14. If the NDP was to take power on the federal level it would be significantly different from them taking over provinces because they'd have more levers to manipulate. Take the favoured example of NDP troubles, Bob Rae. He took power as Free Trade was being implemented, damaging the manufacturing of Ontario, as John Crow's high interest rates were causing record bankruptcies, as the Federal government slashed transfer payments to the provinces as part of an austerity drive.

    What could Rae really do about it? If he wanted to spend more money to prevent more bleeding it would have those high Bank of Canada interest rates charged to them. The only compensation for the transfer payment slashings would be to increase taxes and this would take demand out of the economy unless of course they targeted only the very wealthy - which would make the plutocrats mad and this would be broadcast through the media.

    They also were subject to shameful media treatment. A federal government in contrast can control the Bank of Canada. As an issuer of currency, the feds are not constrained when it comes to spending at all. There will be severe pressure in the media still and the establishment if they veer off too far from orthodoxy but they do have the levers if they choose to use them.

    Already the minority parliaments have at least ruled out some harsh austerity regimes and NDP in power helps make such less likely - in truth, the Liberals are more likely to succumb in my opinion to pressure from the establishment if it's determined to force another cut in the standard of living though there's also the possibility that an NDP government would be forced to "prove itself" to be ruthless when it comes to the people... such a possibility cannot be completely excluded.

    However, there's a global commodity boom thanks to Communist China and this is a significant change from the days of the Slump when commodities were low.

    Whoever runs Canada must reverse these awful corporate tax cuts.